Friday, December 02, 2016

"It's beginning to seem a lot like Christmas...."

In Summerville, The Flowertown Players have kicked off the most wonderful time of the year - Christmas - with their wacky, rollicking, off-the-rail version of the Dickens classic A Christmas Carol.

I was sitting on the edge of my seat in the audience last night for the final dress rehearsal.

These Really Ready for Prime Time players were having their first exposure to a live audience after weeks of preparing and rehearsing according to Director Monica Shows.

Enjoy some family fun in the cozy setting at the James F. Dean Theatre Dec 2 - Dec 11 and experience their 1940s Radio A Christmas Carol .

Details of show dates - and prices - are included below.

I am almost of an age to  recall those days of War bonds, rationing, paper drives, Mutual Radio Network and the Newark, NJ Eastern Wartime time zone.

These were the days predating television of course and sitting in the "live studio audience" was a real time-warp treat.

The red ON THE AIR sign was lighted and the APPLAUSE and LAUGHTER signs flashed on as really unneeded prompts.

Here are the details on the show, when it's performed and the price of admission:
Christmas Eve, 1943, in Newark, NJ, and the Feddington Players are set to present a contemporary A Christmas Carol

Not the usual holiday offering as a veteran actor, William St. Claire, has an on-air breakdown and begins to connect his life with that of the classic Dickens tale. 

Whether it’s the noisy plumbing, missed cues, or over-the-top theatrics, this show is an entertaining excursion into the mayhem of a live radio production complete with holiday music! 
The Flowertown Players will present the show on December 2, 3, 8, 9, 10 @ 8PM & December 4 & 11 @ 3PM. 
Tickets range from $15-$25.
 (Click on the photos and links for more details)

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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

30 Days Hath Movember....

 The Movember Movement started 13 years ago when men were invited to grow a mustache as a sign of support for a fund raiser to help men's health.

I recall when Rob Fowler, a local weather forecaster, announced he would shave OFF his mustache to support the cause.

Meteorologists are funny that way - do the opposite, sort of like the weather often  turns out.

That was a few years ago and I see that Rob grew his dark, thick upper lip ornament in about 4-5 days.

Well, this year I decided I too would grow a sign of support but, with a full beard.

How hard could that be?

I wore a full beard for 5 years and that was only, uh, about 30 years ago.

Hmm. I remember it being more of a blonde color.

It was just going to be a 30-day beard. No big whoop.

Not like the elaborate one featured by a local brewery to honor Charleston.

Or, as we natives sometimes call it - Chucktown.

There is a sad story about that particular man, his beard, the beer can and its corporate image.

Although he never wore it styled like that, his bosses at a Christian college fired this adjunct professor or suspended him.

The thinking on campus was something about it "seemed" like he was  supporting the idea of getting slicked up and drinking beer.

I mean, look at the picture. He's NOT drinking a beer. He would have had foam on his 'stache.

It is possible to not have a time limit on how long you'll have a beard nor how long it can grow.

A band named ZZ TOP has quite a trademark with its two frontmen.

And they've been doing this for about 45 years!

Billy and Dusty - same two hairy guys for almost half a century.

The drummer does not have a fuzzy face but, his name is Frank Beard.

 And, it looks like he has a mustache.

I saw this fellow checking his phone on the deck at The Windjammer last year.

By the time I got my camera up to my eye, he had finished texting or checking his email and had turned it off.

When I asked him to turn it back on, I had to explain how it looked from a distance.

He seemed puzzled.

I took a few shots and showed him how it looked. He asked me to email it to him so I did.

I also congratulated him on his full beard. He said it was 6-years old.

Then I noticed the symbol on his shirt and we talked a bit about his brewery.

Beer and beards. Yet another connection!

I see a lot of beards when I travel overseas.

Can't remember if this fellow was in Berlin, Prague or Slovakia.

Whichever it was, he kept it trimmed neatly across the bottom.

I didn't mention it of course but, at first glance, I thought he was holding a mop.

He had an umbrella with a handle hooked over his left arm.

Some people  just let them loose to grow however long, wide, rounded off or scraggly.

For mine, it's too soon to tell.

It's filling in pretty good and I keep a close eye on it but, so far, it hasn't turned blonde yet.

Saw this fellow in San Antonio, Texas at  a Mardi Gras celebration on the banks of the Riverwalk.

I had flown there for my grandson's graduation from basic training in the U.S. Air Force.

Every week there is a new class of graduates and families so the city has a ready crowd of tourists, eager to see the Alamo and other sights.

I actually spotted this guy's white beard before I even noticed his colorful shirt.

Who knew that before the year was out, I would be sporting my own "newbie" beard.

Gauging how slowly mine is taking shape, he has had this carefully groomed look for quite a while.

Little more mustache wax and he'd be ready to be pictured on a can of Lone Star.

Only a few days left to decide if I'll shave or keep it for a while.

It IS kind of nice not to have to shave every day. And it's not as prickly as it was at first.

(Click on the images and photos for more details.)

Thanks for stopping by. Maybe I'll still have this on my face next Movember.

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

So, what's brewing on the music scene?

 I support Live Music and have been vocal about that for many years.

Also,  have been known to check out new breweries when they open around town.

Last Sunday I had a chance to do both when I stopped by Ghost Monkey Brewery in Mount Pleasant for an early afternoon beer and for conversations with members of the Charleston Live Music Meetup.

The brewery is easy to find, turn left just before you enter the State Port Authority (SPA) on Long Point Road.

Josh Parker, a co-owner, took me on a neat tour before I sat at the bar and tasted their Ghost Beard Baltic, an 8.25 ABV porter. This was a great collaboration with Frothy Beard brewery.

I decided I would have a growler filled with that when I left!

I like the cooperation among the breweries here as a new one seems to pop up every six months or so. Yay!

It was a bright and sunny day so I joined the music fans group seated outside.

Two had attended meetings of my 8-year old Photo Group and I passed out cards, inviting the others to come to a meeting or join us on a photo walk.

The Live Music folks formed 4 months ago, about the same time this brewing company opened its doors.

Needless to say, there was music provided. Well, DUH.

 Mark Schuler, who describes himself as an Acoustic Soloist,  provided a nice melodic background.

I asked if the group selected the musicians and they explained the venue does that.

Then they spread the word about where they encourage members to show up to enjoy the sounds and show their support.

A true use of online social communications.

Families with small children arrived and sat outside on comfortable benches, listening to the music as their kids ran around, burning up energy.

While I was talking with Josh and Jim Leonard, also a co-owner, I noticed the skull tattoo on Josh's neck was the same as the brewing company's logo.

I didn't ask but I wonder which came first?

He probably would have been the one to suggest it at a planning session, pointing to his neck and saying, "I have a logo suggestion."

While we were touring, Jim was pouring bags of ingredients into one of the three large stainless steel tanks. 

Josh explained how they control the temperature by wrapping tubes around the tanks and running a coolant through the coils.

Years ago, I tried making a small batch of beer at home and did NOT have a way to keep things cool.

As the summer temp rose in my workshop, I regretted that I did not have air conditioning downstairs.

No, my 2-gallon container would not fit in my refrigerator. I did try!

Their efforts are MUCH, MUCH better. 

I had sipped a pint of their Lemon Basil IPA - with a reasonable 6.7 ABV -  but, when it was time to leave, I had them fill my growler with the higher 8.25 ABV Ghost Beard Baltic porter.

It was sealed and I took it with me to drink and enjoy at home - when there is no driving involved.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

I enjoyed my first event and thanked Drew Anderson and Kelly, the group's Organizer.

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Chasin' Bubbles on a rainy day...

 It was more than a month since Charleston had had any rain.

Things were dry and a threat of brush fires was becoming a reality.

So, we were glad to see the first rain since Hurricane Matthew had brushed close, early in October.

Matthew dumped a LOT of water!

I had driven to a Stevie Nicks concert in Columbia and returned home Sunday morning, driving on VERY wet and slick roads.

I wondered how that would affect the 2nd Sunday on King Street turnout?

When I started up blocked-off King Street around 2 pm, it looked pretty deserted and grim.

But, as I wandered along, I soon was amid clumps of people, and I was taking some fun "street photography."

Saw a few people proudly walking their dogs, some wearing colorful holiday seasonal red and green vests.

I mean the dogs were clothed warmly because it was still sprinkling and chilly.

I did notice that very few restaurant tables were set up curbside because dining out on a misty day is just not very comfortable.

However, I did see there were pretty good crowds inside the restaurants that I passed.

Of course, I kept my eyes open to spot unusual sights and snapped a small bunch of buskers tucked into a doorway. One guitar, three cigarettes and  - hidden or just keeping warm - a cute puppy.

I had seen this group earlier when I walked through the Starbucks in the Francis Marion hotel.

The brown and white puppy was mostly out of sight then too.

Members of my Photo Group had been invited to gather and walk along King Street this afternoon.

Guess the sudden end to our mini-drought had kept them away.

The plan was to meet in the lobby of the hotel at 2 pm and I got there just as the bells in St. Matthew's Church next store were bonging the time in an insistent manner.

I saw there were quite a few cadets doing more than just window shopping along King Street.

Foul weather would not thwart free time away from their Citadel.

A breath of fresh air. Damp, but open air and off campus.

(Hmmm. Apparently, an umbrella or even a plastic poncho is not part of the uniform of the day.)

In the background was one of the murals painted during Spoleto.

They are scattered all around the historic district and add splashes of vibrant color where you least expect.

As I said, continuing down the street, more people were gathered and stepping around small puddles.

As I got closer to Hassel Street, I heard music and, in particular, a strong clarinet leading a distinct Klezmer sound.

Yep. A stage was set up under an awning and bleacher benches for listeners also were covered and sheltered from the sprinkles.

Several families sat and appreciated the music amid aromatic scents of ethnic food being cooked nearby.

I had worn the waterproof hoodie I had bought for my trip to Scotland.

It worked well there and equally fine today under gray skies.

Attendance WAS way off and that's a shame because a rainy day offers many photo opportunities and a cool, slower-paced walk.

Shopping the open stores did not seem hampered and the crowded restaurants showed it was not a "bad day" as far as they were concerned.

I continued to keep my camera ready and even spotted some young
ladies with the same goal in mind.

As they passed by me, I handed one my card and suggested they go online and check out my Photo Group.

They both thanked me and said they would.

At our last meeting, the members attending included our oldest long-time member (George calls me"kid") and Rivers Rudloff, a first-timer  17-year old high schooler.

They both take great photos.

So, all in all, it was a good photo day for me.

Caught some nice shots of people enjoying the outdoors and even turned the corner on Beaufain Street to step into Le Farfalle, the new restaurant that four months ago, replaced the former Leaf.

Before that, the spot was Vickery's for almost 20 years.

Speaking of places I like to re-visit, the lobby of the Francis Marion was spectacular.

Back in the 1950s, I had worked in the corner store that now is Starbucks.

I was a senior at Bishop England high school, a few blocks down Calhoun Street, and worked at Norvell's Camera Exchange.

We even had a black & white darkroom on one of the floors upstairs in the hotel. I would take the elevator  up to drop off rolls of film for processing.

I recall that all of the color films were packed up and mailed each night to Kodak in Chamblee, Georgia.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Looks like the rain has cleared out and a sunny week is forecasted. Get out and take photos.

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Thursday, November 10, 2016

A New Face In The Crowd....getting ahead.

 I formed 21st Century Photo Group almost 9 years ago. We are local photographers, ranging  from newbies to pros.

There are about 180 members and 15-20  meet each month on the 2nd Wednesday. Others join our frequent photo walks.

We are fortunate to meet in the Conference Room at the Carolina Ice Palace by Northwoods Mall in North Charleston.

It's perfect! We can adjust the lights and sound, move things around and have good sessions.

I had invited a good buddy Joseph Nienstedt to pack up his mini-studio and show how he makes really great Head Shots.

"The key thing is the communications between me and the subject, " Joe explained to the

"Get him or her relaxed, comfortable, adjust the pose for the best results and try to capture his best image," he added.

Joe answered questions as he made adjustments, explaining how to maximize or minimize the subject's features.

In front of the camera is a long-time member - and a co-Coordinator for the Group - Andy Reilly.

He laughed when Joe asked which was his best side.

Then he turned his back to the camera and said, "how about this?"

Clearly, Andy was relaxed and enjoying his Head Shot session.

After he finished shooting many, many images, he would show the results on our big screen, demonstrating how a tweak here or there would adjust the outcome of the finished product.

There are many software programs available and Joseph has a few favorites he likes to use.

He showed how one would whiten the look of teeth or adjust the facial color in the image.

He said Andy did not need a lot of manipulation but did point out that a 2-dimensional look of a 3-D face often "squashes" somewhat and he uses tools to correct that mistaken effect.

He had shown me that when he took pictures of my face a few months ago, one smiling and one serious.

On the screen, he gently pushed both sides of my face back to my actual look and I could see the difference.
Joseph knows how to catch the "best side" of his clients...even though my English major taught me it should be called the "better" side.

(Click on the images and links for more details.)

AND, if you are interesting in photography and would like to hang out with some friendly and talented folks, click on the link and join.

It's easy to join and it's FREE.

Hope to see you as a new member soon.

We are going to the Second Sunday on King Street event
this weekend Nov. 13.

We'll meet in the Francis Marion lobby at 2 pm. Bring your camera and join us.

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Monday, November 07, 2016

A "Hairy" subject...

 I had seen ZZ TOP perform before - at the PAC - a few years ago.

But, this was their first time in our new Gaillard Center.

They filled both venues... with clean-shaven fans, bearded ones and a few "No Shave November*" participants.

It's also known as Movember*.

I saw a Gaillard beverage vendor lady pouring beers while wearing a long, flowing blonde beard.

I asked if it was her idea and she said, "Not really, my husband suggested it would be a funny idea."

That's really getting into the spirit!

My modest effort to contribute my hirsute effort is still in the beginning stage - Day 6 - and has a long way to go.

I actually wore a beard for five years.

As I recall, way back then, mine was blonde - light blonde - so this will come in similar.

Well, more white than even gray.

Eventually. I do have a full month to make this happen.

(Uh, oh, the headshots I had done to send when I apply to be an Extra in tv shows filming here, will not reflect this soon-to-be-shaggy look.

Guess I'll stick with the clean shaved look.
Easier to maintain on short notice.

If I were chosen, I'd have to tell the casting director it would take me a month - at least - to show a bearded look.

(I did take a photo of the "bearded lady" so I include it here.)

I sat a few rows further back than usual.

Row E is about 7 or 8 rows from the stage, counting rows in the Orchestra pit.

I paused coming in to allow a small group ahead of me  to file into the very last row on the ground floor of the Gaillard.

Knew it was a sell-out show and felt sort of bad for a moment that they would be seated so far back.

When you're seated up front, you get to see facial features and get even more from the performance. But, they seemed to be in a very good mood.

Even jovial.

I heard one of their crowd say "So, we have seats in row ZZ! Wow!"

They must have planned this, armed with a diagram of the seating chart.

 But, even with seats relatively close to the stage, there always is room for a fan to stand, waving their arms and playing air guitar.

Or just standing perfectly still.

For a long time.

Oh well, I was there to hear the music.

Seeing the band that's had the same three members for 45 years is quite a big deal.

Bassist Dusty Hill and guitarist Billy Gibbons have long-time long beards. The drummer has no whiskers ... but his name is Frank Beard.

(Click on the images and links for more details.)

For the folks who sat in row ZZ...this is what the bearded ones looked like.

Party on!

Oh, I rummaged around in my files to find a photo I remembered  from a few years ago when "Cat Bearding" was - briefly - popular online.

It seems appropriate to include it here.

My cat posed beautifully.

If you look closely, her tiny nose replaced mine.

She allowed one more shot then squirmed her way out of my grasp.

Thanks again for stopping by.

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Monday, October 31, 2016

"Woodman, spare that tree!"

Oct 31st is a good day to shop at Sears.

I saw a guy in a red flannel shirt walk by and thought he MIGHT be a person  who worked there.

Pretty casual shirt, though.

Then he came by again, carrying a double-bladed ax. Yes, I checked and it was a Craftsman model.

DUH. It's Halloween and he's in a costume.

A fellow customer waiting with me at the register started softly singing some lyrics of the Monty Python "Lumberjack Song."

I'm a Python fan so I smiled.

The fellow at the register said, "Wait till you see his partner - she's a tree."

And, great timing, she then walked past and Crystal Broad stopped to give a peck on the cheek to Frank Edwards, her favorite lumberjack.

Well, this started a series of awful cutting remarks and puns like going out on a limb, or leaf her alone. I faced him and said, "Let me ax you a question." There was a pause------ and he said "OK, I get it" and adjusted the tool on his shoulder.

The SEARS sign above the woodsy couple I altered by adding the word Halloween.

A few days earlier, I had seen comedian Louis C.K. at the Gaillard Center - the hottest ticket in town - on the second night of his two shows.

The Emmy, Peabody and Grammy-winning writer, actor and director, said he is venturing into larger venues for his hilarious stand-up routines.

He  "rented" the Charleston facility, sold his own tickets to thwart "scalpers" and offered all reserved seats at a flat $50 total, including tax and fees. WOW! 4,000 seats sold out quickly.

The only downside was the dire warning about taking pictures and I was seated close enough it would have been embarrassing to be called out.

So I went online and selected this photo, credited to Richard Shotwell, AP. It captured his look in a suit and tie instead of his more relaxed baggy t-shirt.

The next night I went to the North Charleston PAC (Performing Arts Center) for a delightful evening with Bonnie Raitt.

This was the fourth time I've seen her and I kept my small camera in my pocket, and my cell phone turned off as signs directed.

The warning didn't seem as harsh because my buddy saw online that, usually during her encore, Ms. Raitt will tell her fans she would not mind if they snapped a few pictures.

Many silent phones were quickly turned on and aimed at the stage.

Actually, I did take a few quiet photos covertly before the encore but joined in as we stood and sang along at the end of the show.

Louis C.K. had expressed it well the night before:

"Fans should come and enjoy the show with their own two eyes, not through a small screen."

He then described a sea of fans, each one holding up their phone cams, as a group came off the plane, all holding their own cell phones.

Funny image.

And security pointed a bright light at several in the audience who didn't seem to get the message.

A comedian does not want his well-rehearsed set being shown online in bits and pieces, with a shaky camera, poor lighting, and really bad sound.

Performers might start sending in an ax-wielding Lumberjack to assure enforcement of their demands.

(Click on the images and links for more details.)

Two nights of fantastic performances before large crowds and a small, funny scene in a Sears store in Northwoods Mall on Halloween.

Thanks for sharing my entertainment.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Thanksgiving is WHEN?

 I arrived at Heather Solo's home in Ladson just about the right time last Sunday...the Thanksgiving roasted turkey was coming out of the oven.


Well, actually, it was the second or maybe even the third one.

This good-looking taste treat, I was told, was not "brined." That sounded kind of salty so I was glad I would be having some of this particular "EarlyBird" bird.

This was only October and the faux traditional holiday meal was being prepared about 30 days early.

This was so photos could be taken and used in food articles and recipes leading up to the real deal meal next month.

Heather Solos, a delightful, fun blogger I met 10 years ago, created to provide important tips on everyday living. Go to her site and perhaps get a copy of her book.

She details preparing a successful family dinner when everybody comes together, expecting to eat well.

Before I arrived, a full array of side dishes had been put together by Heather, then photographed by Phillip Guyton, Jr., who comes down from Florence each year that this event takes place.

 We, the lucky invited guests, sampled each dish.

These ran through a variety of collard greens with sausage, risotto with mushrooms, a trio of boiled potatoes, several stuffings, green string beans, cornbread, cherry and apple pies, etc., etc.

Of course, we who had done this before were wise enough to bring containers to take away portions for a later meal. Here's the dinner I had on Monday at home.

Heather even provided plasticware with lids so nobody left empty-handed.

The table filled as each new component had its picture taken and we dove in to sample the newest and go back for seconds.

This dining tutorial brought other fellow bloggers and friends so it was a pleasant afternoon and evening of eating and greeting.

One newcomer to me was seeing the family pet, a hedgehog whose name I didn't catch.

Maybe Barbie or Spike?

Heather lifted the critter, a spiny round ball and slowly coaxed it to relax and unfurl.

I have an inside cat who is curious about everything and she would have been stabbed in her nose if she got too close .

These defensives stiff spears are sharp and hurt if you touch the ends.

Heather showed us its full range of activity as it uncurled and showed that it too was curious.

I have no idea of what a hedgehog eats, but if it includes white and dark turkey, stuffing, and delicious side dishes, it had to be happy there as the family pet.

No, I never did reach out and touch it but I did snap a few pictures.

I packed up my early festive meal and headed home after thanking my hostess Heather. I was pretty sure I had a can of cranberry jelly in my cabinet.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

Let me be the first to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving..just a few days before Halloween.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

Half a century...seriously?

 A reunion is a time to see people you haven't seen in a long time.

Fifty-four years IS quite a bunch!

This was a get together in San Diego with about 60 former and retired editorial staffers from the Union-Tribune newspaper.

Some worked for either the afternoon Tribune or the morning Union.

Some worked for the combined paper after the merger which meant the Tribune was no longer a separate paper.

I was a staff photographer from 1962 to 1969 and often started the day on a story for one paper and ended the day "working" for the other.

The above photo shows photographers L-R:  me, Thane MacIntosh (a 40-year veteran at the paper), Phil McMahan (who started the year before me and who led the Photo Lab after Thane retired) and Joe Holly who came to the paper right after I had left and gone to Los Angeles.

We all benefited from a newsy newsletter that was emailed almost every day to members of the 919 GANG.

Editor Jack Reber has compiled and distributed that online for more than a decade.

The Gang's name came from the street address of the paper's entrance at 919 Second Avenue when it was still downtown before I left and it later moved out to Mission Valley.

It seemed appropriate to shoot these "vintage" photos in black and white.

Rex Salmon came up with the idea of a reunion and issued updates as names came in from people who wanted to gather and see and chat with old buddies.

Not sure, but I may have flown the longest distance.

I was coming to my daughter's delayed wedding reception in Oakland on Saturday and the timing meant I could then fly down to San Diego for the festivities there on Monday afternoon.

I remember putting together the very first Photo Lab Christmas card, er, I mean, Season's Greetings photo holiday card in 1966.

Looking back 50 years, we were a good looking crew and I am very glad at least a few of us showed up for the reunion.

Another photo staffer who did come - Andy Brown - apparently was part of the lab but I didn't recall him until I dug up this card and saw his face. Sorry, Andy!

There were lively conversations about The Union vs The Evening Tribune before and after the merger in 1992.

There was fierce competition between the two papers operating out of the same building.

We might go out on an extended search-and-rescue as I did and each of the 3 days I was camped on site, my coverage would shift from one paper to the other as deadlines passed. I had to keep quiet about leads and details that I saw through the 24-hour cycle.

We photographers were encouraged to keep an eye out for a stand-alone feature photo that would be suitable for a caption-only use.

My young son got in the paper a lot - as did other photographer's children - when a space needed to be filled.

While in town for the U-T reunion, I drove up behind a car with a personal license tag and I snapped a picture.

I did not bother to get any quotes or comments from the driver. I believe his name is Randolph.

I am sure the Photo Editor would have declined to use it.

(Click on the photos and links for more details.)

I am glad I was in California and close enough to attend.

It was quite a weekend, a wedding soiree on Saturday and time travel on Monday in San Diego, going back half a century. Wow.

Of course, San Diego Bay had to be in color as I flew back up to Oakland.

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